In a city where the zombie apocalypse has taken over, the buildings crumble, grass grows through the pavement and you still have a cherry ride to drive. Clutch is a post apocalyptic racing game that’s geared just as much to racing as it is dull side events that feel like I’m a dog playing fetch. All of the races take place in three major areas, a small city, a neighboring freight yard and an underground network of tunnel tubes.
Clutch plays like other arcade racers, you have an accelerator, a brake, headlights, a respawn and a nitro boost. This boost of your runs on zombie blood. Sure you can still jump off ramps to refill your nitrous, but for the most part you need to be ramming into what were once your fellow human beings. Think of it as saving bullets at the expense of fuel. Well the game has neither, so just ram those zombies dead and boost away!
In terms of upgrades,you can purchase a variety of side slicers, bumper spikes and nitrous boosters. The boosters consume less fuel and last longer. The side slashers are automatic, they extend in an instant to give you extra reach to get that sweet zombie nitrous nectar. These upgrades are all vehicle specific and four hours into the game, i feel like I’m at the last event and there are only three vehicles with one skin each. Even with only one skin, you can still select your skin, which means there has to be more. You’ll have to unlock the upgrades by winning events and then purchase with cash that you’ll get from winning races, events and destroying other racers.
There are giant glowing spheres in several key locations. Each color does something different, gold gives you more cash, blue refills your nitrous, green either repairs your car or completely repairs your car. That’s right if your car runs out of health it explodes and you lose the event. Purple gives you three times the damage.
Something interesting to note is that the vehicle models take damage, which is cool. Blood covers your hood and turns your headlights red. Your car lights on fire when its low on health, but even when you are repaired to full health, your car still looks damaged.
In some races there are wind tunnels that will dash you forward faster than any nitrous boost. In other events such as demolition derby there are air vents that will launch your vehicle into the air. It adds to the arcade feel and makes me want to like the game more than I do.
Its similar to other street racing games where most races are closed circuit and block off sections of the city. I can only imagine the logistics of flying in arrow signs and heavy cement blocks during a time of zombie crisis to setup a race course. One of the first problems is that the arrow signs when racing can be knocked down and by the third lap, you need to have every dark corner memorized that you turn here. There is a mini map, but it does little more than show you yourself, other racers and where spheres are located
Rather than selecting each event from a menu, you need to drive to them, following an arrow at the bottom of the screen to guide you. In one way, that could make the game more immersive, but in another, its a prolonged stay in a city that you’l lalready be competing in over and over.
The best side missions are the demolition derbies. Like the races, you face off against five other competitors. Other cars, a hum vehicle and a giant piece of construction equipment to keep it interesting. This piece of equipment runs as well as one of the other cars. You can flip other cars over and ram them. Of course if you’re driving a low to the ground vehicle, you can watch as they use you as a ramp. The challenge here is destroying three or more vehicles before the time runs out.
Completing one even with a rank of T(een), M(ature) and C(hild?) in each event will unlock a the next. The game is more than races, and for me that’s where it takes a wrong turn. I’m happy if a racing game has more than races, but the vast majority of these feels the same, but with a twist for difficulty sake.
Its all stuff like collect X number of artifacts before time runs out. To get more time, you touch the floating artifacts with your car. For each one you touch, a new one spawns and your arrow will tell you where its located. You can also see it on your mini map too, but if its out of range, you’ll rely on the arrow anyway. One of these events early in the game stopped me after completing each tier of collecting Y number of artifacts and then I went onto the next tier. This event lasted far too long, which I suppose is why the game cuts in and says done with this tier, would you like to do something else?
Oh but that’s just where the formula begins! Other events include saving sports cars from zombies. The cars spawn in one at a time and you need to rescue the car before its destroyed. Then there’s a how many zombies can you kill before time runs out? To add time to your clock, you need to run over special bio hazard zombies that will douce your vehicle with some blue liquid to drain its health. You need to kill 100 or so zombies or fail. These zombies are sparse, but you can usually kill three at a time.
The game keeps ramping up the challenge with these side missions. The missions add other cars to hinder you. Others have you competing against other cars to see who can get the most artifacts. This would feel more fun if it was in the daytime and I could see where the objects spawn rather than relying on my arrow. Then I could get some strategy involved so I could see this and that car can reach the object long before I can, so I should hang out here and wait for the next one.
The final event forces you to clear out all zombies from a tunnel either in thirty, twenty or ten minutes, depending on what rank you want. This alone is tedious enough, but the fact that its dark and you need to rely on headlights makes it worse. To top that off after a few minutes, the game sends three cars after you.
The game is easy to pick up and play with no complex mechanics. It plays well on a keyboard or 360 controller. One problem I do have is the chase cam is relegated to four angles (front, right, left, rear) rather than having full control. Hey I’m still happy there are four angles. There’s also a variety of cameras to chose from, hood, bumper, far chase cam, near chase cam and so on.
As for the graphics and music, both are worth mentioning for both good and the bad. The music is some mix of 50s and 60s style surfer rock’n roll. There is a little more diversity than that, but it got old fast. The graphics do look convincing. Its more of a beautiful blue sky over a dreary city. The zombies and gore are fair and convincing, but no one is playing for the zombies.
I’m really on the fence about this one. From a technical standpoint, the game is fun, easy to play, but its a little too easy. So its good for children other than the whole zombie gore factor. There’s no wow factor that other racers have. A wider variety of courses would have been appreciated rather than racing in the same city for two hours and then the other two areas for an hour or so a piece.